LGBTI activists in the UK are calling for Pride events to ban culturally appropriative costumes such as faux Native American headdresses.

Campaigners in Birmingham, home to the UK’s biggest two-day Pride festival, are angry after racially insensitive costumes were spotted in this year’s parade, Pink News has reported.

Suriya Aisha of UNMUTED, a network for LGBTI people of colour, said the costumes were symptomatic of deeper problems of racism.

“I think Birmingham Pride has deeper and wider systematic things to face, of which cultural appropriation is one of the things on the surface,” Aisha said.

“So whilst I think banning cultural appropriation is a good idea, really, there needs to be deeper work done by the Pride organisers to raise awareness and visibility of issues other cultures and nationalities face as LGBTI, so that a ban isn’t tokenistic.

“I would encourage Pride to gather feedback and evaluation from the people of Birmingham and beyond to see if the Pride festival reflects their city.”

Bisexual Muslim activist Harry Alimo said that people should understand what they are taking from other cultures with costumes.

“I think people need to understand that if they’re going to take from another culture, they need to understand the cultural significance of what they’re taking, and have to ask if it suits the purpose of what they are doing with this culture,” said Alimo.

“Are they just turning up to a kind of ‘Halloween’ thing, just because, or are they sharing the historic context of that thing?

“I think they’re exacerbating their own privilege because they feel they can get away with it and nobody will say anything, and even if someone does say something, it’s only us criticising them, it doesn’t change the power dynamic.

“We need people to call out cultural appropriation, ask people why they’re doing it, and if it’s not cultural appreciation then it’s cultural appropriation and cultural ignorance.”

Event director Lawrence Barton said Birmingham Pride was against culturally appropriative outfits, and would aim to keep racially offensive costumes out.

“Birmingham Pride is against cultural appropriation completely, without exception and does not condone it in anyway shape or form,” said Barton.

“We will take steps to ensure staff are better trained and educated to make a judgement as to what is and what isn’t offensive or acceptable.

“Whilst we do not condone cultural appropriation in anyway, we also have to consider what could have been a completely innocent oversight on the part of the wearer.”

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